Continental Congress

The Continental Congress, also known as the Philadelphia Congress in its early iterations, was a convention of delegates called together from the Thirteen Colonies. The Congress met from 1774 to 1789 in three incarnations and became the governing body of the new United States of America during the American War of Independence. Much of what is known today about the activities and deliberations of the Continental Congresses comes from the yearly log books printed by the Continental Congress called Resolutions, Acts and Orders of Congress, which gives a day-to-day description of debates and issues.

The call for a Continental Congress of Britain's American colonies was made over issues of the blockade and the Intolerable Acts penalizing the Province of Massachusetts Bay. At the urging of Benjamin Franklin and other colonial leaders, delegates from twelve colonies formed a representative body that convened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in early September 1774. This First Continental Congress sought to help repair the frayed relationship between the British government and its American colonies while also asserting the rights of colonists. It sent a Petition to King George III urging the repeal of the Intolerable Acts and outlined collective trade policies to follow if the King and Parliament did respond favorably to their grievances. In late October 1774, the Congress resolved to call another meeting if conditions warranted, then dissolved.

The Second Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia in May 1775. Early on, the delegates were divided on the question of breaking from Crown rule. Although they wrote and sent the Olive Branch Petition to the King seeking peace in June 1775, they also established the Continental Army and gave command to one of their members, George Washington of Virginia, in July of the same year. Sentiments had changed by the next summer, and on July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress unanimously passed a resolution asserting American independence. The Declaration of Independence was issued two days later, declaring that the colonies had formed a new nation, the United States of America. The Second Continental Congress was the nation's governing body during the American Revolution. It directed the war effort, forged an alliance with France, and funded the war with loans and paper money. It also wrote the Articles of Confederation, which was the first plan of government for the United States. However, it could not always meet in Philadelphia, as the city was occupied by British forces for a time.

The Third Continental Congress was officially known as the Congress of the Confederation and operated under the Articles of Confederation once the document took effect in 1781. It first convened in Philadelphia and later moved to several other cities, most notably New York. This body ratified the Treaty of Paris, officially ending the War of Independence, and passed the Northwest Ordinance, which set out the procedure for adding new states to the young nation. Due to problems with the Articles of Confederation, representatives from most of the states met to revise the document in the summer of 1787. This Constitutional Convention decided to replace the existing system of government and wrote the Constitution of the United States, which was ratified in 1788. The Congress of the Confederation disbanded in 1789, when the 1st United States Congress under the new Constitution took over the role as the nation's legislative branch.

Previous Congresses

The idea of a congress of British North American Colonies was first broached in 1754 at the start of the French and Indian war, which started as the North American front of the Seven Years War between Great Britain and France. It met in Albany, New York from June 18 to July 11, 1754, and was attended by representatives from seven colonies. Among the delegates was Benjamin Franklin of Philadelphia, who proposed that the colonies join together in a confederation. While this idea was rejected by the Albany congress, it would be revived 113 years later among the remaining colonies of British North America to create Canada.

To present a united front in their opposition to the Stamp act, delegates of the Provinces of British North America met in the Stamp Act Congress, which convened in New York City from 7 through October 25, 1765. It issued a Declaration of Rights and Grievances, which it sent to the British Parliament in London. While Parliament repealed the Stamp Act, the First Rockingham ministry rejected any presumption of authority by the American congress.[clarification needed]

Other Languages
Bân-lâm-gú: Tāi-lio̍k Hōe-gī
한국어: 대륙회의
Bahasa Indonesia: Kongres Kontinental
Bahasa Melayu: Kongres Benua Kedua
日本語: 大陸会議
Simple English: Continental Congress
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Kontinentalni kongres
粵語: 大陸議會
中文: 大陆会议